Good people doing great things

6 May 2024

On 8 May we celebrate World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day – a global day that celebrates the uniqueness and unity of our International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

In 2024 it’s all about keeping humanity alive. We celebrate the millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent people around the world, who every day provide hope and dignity during some of the darkest days of people’s lives.

Each day across the motu, Red Cross people are doing things big and small to keep humanity alive. We provide help wherever we're needed, without discrimination. From Meals on Wheels, to supporting refugees, responding to disasters, and helping out in our shops, everyone has a part to play in Red Cross. We’re a team of thousands of members and volunteers, as well as around 600 employees, from Kaitaia to Waihopai | Invercargill.

Every year we recognise their service through national honours and awards. In 2023, over 100 people were recognised for their service to New Zealand Red Cross. This story highlights a few of them.

What we now know is the Red Cross Balclutha Branch started in 1939 and the first meeting was held in the back of a drapery shop. Since its inception, the branch has maintained strong membership and has fully embodied the Fundamental Principle of voluntary service. Over 84 years, the branch has been involved in wide range of activities that have positively impacted the community.

Their first purpose-built premises, which featured meeting rooms and a Red Cross Shop, were built in the 1960s with the help of the local Lions Club. To this day Balclutha Red Cross continues to operate from this building, which they extended in 2013. The branch has also held the contract to coordinate and deliver Meals on Wheels in Balclutha since 1968.

Read more about the Balclutha Branch

Photo: Jerry Talbot, Syd Smith, and Joan Cockburn at the 1985 General Assembly of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland.

Joan first became involved with Red Cross in 1963, joining what was then Red Cross’ Waihau/Patoka Branch, where members learned first aid and organised fundraising events. She was elected to the National Board in 1982, was elected as National President in 1986, and also served on the Executive Council of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Before her most recent service award, Joan was made a Counsellor of Honour – our highest award.

Even after 60 years, Joan is still involved in Red Cross and has no plans to stop, “what I do now is pretty minimal, but by keeping things ticking over in this part of the world means that we’re a stronger society in the worldwide picture.”

Read more about Joan

Kath joined the Dunedin Disaster Welfare and Support Team in 2008 and deployed in 2010 after the first Canterbury earthquake. She was back in Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake, setting up a Civil Defence Centre, doing door-to-door assessments with a team of civil engineers, and helping people fill in applications for Red Cross grants.

She also deployed after the South Dunedin floods and Chain Hills fire in 2015, the Kaikōura earthquake and tsunami in 2016, the Dunedin and Mosgiel floods in 2017, and the Burnside fire and South Dunedin floods in 2018. In 2016, her expertise was called on in Darwin, Australia, where she deployed to assist Australian Red Cross after the Daly River floods.

Read more about Kath

Hamish joined the Dunedin Disaster Welfare and Support Team in 2010 and Amelia joined in 2011. They’ve both deployed multiple times, including in response to the 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes, South Dunedin floods and Chain Hills fire in 2015, the Kaikōura earthquake and tsunami in 2016, the Dunedin and Mosgiel floods in 2017, and the Burnside fire and South Dunedin floods in 2018.

As well as volunteering their time to train for and respond to disasters, both Amelia and Hamish have served as executive members for Red Cross’ Dunedin Branch.

Read more about Amelia and Hamish

Ethne’s been a member of Red Cross in Wellington for 16 years. During her time with the Karori and Wellington Red Cross branches, she led annual fundraisers and secured grants to fund for first aid classes for people who speak English as a second language. She also made sure that former refugees would be greeted at the airport by Red Cross volunteers. Later, she coordinated buying items for welcome packs, which provided essential household items for former refugees resettling in Wellington.

As well as being a dedicated Red Cross member, Ethne has been active in her home community of Karori for decades. She played hockey and tennis and coached school and adult teams, served on parent teacher associations, volunteered with the Catholic Women’s League, and has been involved with Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne since its inception.

Photo courtesy of Chris Gee.

Read more about Ethne

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